[NEW MUSIC] MATT WALKER – ‘MAMA GO TELL YOUR CHILDREN’

Photo by Lisa Sorgini

Photo by Lisa Sorgini

Matt Walker has an impressive list of fellow musicians he’s worked with over the years, including touring with Bob Dylan, Patti Smith and The Black Keys amongst others. Aside from all his other projects, Matt’s own musical output is quality stuff too. His is latest EP Mama Go Tell Your Children is a nice handful of laid back, original, Australian country tracks, also featuring his brand new four piece band, The Lost Ragas.

The title tracks bright mandolin lead melody opens the EP on a nice bright note. The instrument’s higher regiester, along with crisp harmonica from Broderick Smith balances nicely with Matt’s lower, grittier toned vocals and the guitars.

Let’s Fall In Love Again‘ and ‘Can’t Sleep‘ have been reworked from solo pieces of Matt’s, to more elaborately instrumented versions with The Lost Ragas. ‘Let’s Fall In Love Again’ slows things down a bit with Matt leading the band into some brief interesting tonal manipulations at points. The final track, ‘Can’t Sleep,’ has calming soft strumming guitars throughout, focusing listeners attention to Matt’s vocals. The pedal steel instrumental from Shane Reilly is really something worth a listen too.

Matt Walker and The Lost Ragas launch ‘Mama Go Tell Your Children’ on Friday the 3rd of May down at the Spotted Mallard.  Joining them is Ponyface who will cover the entirety of Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska. Also on the lineup is Melbourne quintet Saint Jude.

For more info check the Spotted Mallard website.

 

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[INTERVIEW] ANIMAUX

Image: Greta Robenstone

As published in Lot’s Wife Magazine Edition One, 2013

After a solid year of relentless gigging in 2012, Melbourne pop/funk seven piece Animaux have gone from strength to strength. We had a chat with the band’s singer, sax player and Monash music student, Alex Lahey about the Simpsons quoting, cat lovin’ group that is Animaux.

Who makes up Animaux? Animaux is a group of seven young individuals who share a passion for genre confused music and hummus. On the drums is Adam Engel, an avid aviation follower. When not beating and bashing his prized drums, he can be found taking photos of his cat, Austin. Will Base was born with Base in his name and a bass in his hands and with the nimblest fingers in the land, Base-o is a force to be reckoned with. On the guitar is Sam Jeffreys, a Kramer haired, and guitar wielding character. Sammo has a thirst for Top 40 bangers of any era that cannot be quenched.

The one and only female band member, Alex Lahey takes care of lead vocals and alto sax. When not with Animaux, she divides her time between quoting copious amounts of The Simpsons, consuming poached eggs and being a Sloth enthusiast. On the keys is Bill Black: The king of backing vocals and afterschool tutoring. Big Blacko has the capacity to unleash killer JT-style melodies, so you’d better watch your back!

Manning the tenor sax is Ollie Whitehead: Part-time fence builder, full-time sax man. There’s no crossing this guy when he’s armed with his trademark snap back, and a frothy in hand. Off stage, Animaux’s resident red head and trumpeter Alex Woolford, enjoys learning about the stock market and car insurance. On stage, he pulls moves to rival anyone’s aunt at their mother’s 50th.

You describe your sound as a mixture of funk and pop, but did you experiment with other genres before the Animaux sound was born? I don’t think that there was much experimentation with other genres, rather experimentation with song writing methods and styles. I believe the genre/s that come through in our music are more a product of the way we write and arrange our tunes, as opposed to sitting down and saying “let’s write a reggae tune,” or, “let’s write a deep funk song”. We formed after playing together for years in various big bands and jazz ensembles, playing little to no original music. So we’re exploring song writing as a group but it’s something we all really enjoy doing and feel we’re getting better at!

Three short years have passed since you formed and you’re now supporting The Cat Empire on March 22nd! Any special preparations for this show? When we first started Animaux we created a list of all of our ultimate goals as a band, and on the top of that list was to one day support The Cat Empire. The feeling of realising that collective goal is incredible! Preparations for that particular show will involve the usual Sunday arvo rehearsals in St Kilda, along with the plethora of shows we have booked before The Cat Empire gig. A Mighty Ducks-style pep-talk and band huddle will probably take place just before we take the stage too.

Apart from The Cat Empire gig, what’s Animaux looking forward to in 2013? We’re in the middle of a two month residency at the Evelyn Hotel in Fitzroy at the moment where we’ve been sharing the stage with some killer supports. We always have so much fun at the Ev – it feels like our home ground. We’re also super excited to be playing the Hills Are Alive festival in March alongside names like New Navy and Saskwatch.

Can we expect any new Animaux tunes soon? We’re currently in the pre-production phase of creating our upcoming EP, due in mid to late- 2013. We’re really excited to get an extended release out there that we’re all really proud of, and that will turns some heads.

[NEW MUSIC] BRIGHTLY – ‘PREFLIGHT NERVES’

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Image courtesy of Brightly

After delivering their clear vinyl 45 ‘Sarah/Doubt’ last year, Brightly are about to release their debut album ‘Beginnings and Endings’ this April . But the boys have shaken things up a bit with this release, developing a way in which listeners can nab the new album for free via the The Beginnings and Endings Project.

The project works like this:

  1. Sign up on Brightly’s website
  2. Download your free copy of their latest single, ‘Preflight Nerves’
  3. Share with your mates, mum, boss, neighbor etc
  4. Once you’ve shared the single with 10 others  (who have also downloaded it) you can download the album, ‘Beginnings and Endings’ for FREE!

So far the single has traveled over 263,323km’s through cyberspace to the ears of listeners worldwide. We think that’s pretty cool.

You can take part too! Just sign up to The Beginnings and Endings Project and let the the little speck of data that is ‘Preflight Nerves’ travel the globe and you’ll be rewarded with a free album from Brightly.

[REVIEW] ABBE MAY @ THE TOFF

Photo courtesy of Abbe May

As published in Monash University’s student newspaper ‘Lot’s Wife,’ January 2013

On the eve the Mayans predicted the world would come to an apocalyptic end, Perth’s Abbe May took to the Toff stage for her aptly named Karmageddon national tour. The threatening apocalypse didn’t seem to faze the largest audience I’ve ever seen at The Toff, but loomed in the air with the scent of bourbon, cigarettes and the promise of an Abbe May experience.

After a decent set from Perth electronic rock band Shy Panther, Abbe May and entourage took to the stage. Kitsch images of lightning bolts and May’s head were projected on the backdrops throughout the first synth laden tune ‘Kaboom’. Thankfully the fit-inducing projections were soon replaced by a pink wash was adopted as the band covered The Motels ‘Total Control’: a classic track which Abbe’s dulcet yet commanding rock voice treated well.

I had heard, before the gig, that Abbe May is a sassy, sexual and spirited character with  no qualms about being outlandish, but her stage presence at first didn’t seem to live up to this persona. This side of her character seemed to appear towards the tail end of the show when playing recent tunes, ‘Karmageddon’ and ‘Sex Tourette’s’. She seductively spelt out song titles like ‘Trouble’, and had teasing small talk between songs ‘Sex Tourette’s’ and ‘Kiss my apocalypse’.  The set flourished, albeit a bit too late, especially since there was no encore.

The song as ‘Perth Girls’ was temporarily renamed  ‘Melbourne Boys’ to end tonight’s set, since Melbourne boys apparently look like girls to this Perth native.

[REVIEW] SHARON JONES AND THE DAP KINGS @ THE CORNER HOTEL

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Sharon Jones and the Dap Tone Kings recently visited Australia for Peats Ridge, and Sydney Festival’s Daptone Soul Review. The soul legends also add some side shows in their hectic scheduled  including tonight’s first of three sold-out gigs at The Corner Hotel,

Supported by fellow Daptone artists The Menahan Street Band and special guest Charles Bradley delivering vocals to rival James Brown. It was clear from the onset that tonight would be a night of pure  American soul music.

The Dap Kings warmed up the crowd with some tight instrumental funk, and then welcomed each member of back up singing duo ‘The Dappettes’. Each showed off their equally powerful voices that were clearly worthy of sharing Jones’s stage.

The long but enjoyable warm up left the audience in adoration of the lady, so when she set foot on stage The Corner crowd went berserk. Jones delivered from the get go, each song was more that solid from her and band, yet she adds that tinge of sass

Yet things weren’t sailing as smoothly as it seems, so when she said a few songs in, “This is really bad, I’m straining here,” to her sound technician side of stage,  it was an uneasing sight.

I had heard Jones really cares about her live sound, which is really a credit to her, because in the moment of a live gig, everything may sound tight, but the live setting allows for some leeway, which isn’t always a good thing.

However her showman ship took over, and she went on with the set. It’s a sign of a band at the top of their game, to not only sell out shows, but to care about the sound, the atmosphere, and deliver an entertaining and memorable show to their audience.

Jones moved on by pulling young, bearded men up on stage to dance in ‘Be easy,’ then again with six women for another song, then danced them each off stage one-by-one. Tacky as it might sound, it was surprisingly entertaining and I (and everyone else I’m sure) secretly wished to be up on stage dancing with Sharon.

‘She ain’t a child no more’ and ‘I learned the hard way’ from their 2010 album I learned the hard way and the title track from 2007’s album 100 days, 100 nights bought the set to a close.

The Dappettes bought the band back on stage for the encore, then Sharon treated us with an elongated encore edition of ‘When I come Home.’ Including a dance break where Sharon taught the crowd the boogaloo, the jerk, the chicken and something called ‘the four corners.’

Australian soul acts really could learn from Sharon Jones and her band. Their fresh approach to audience participation and how they go about delivering their songs, with the sass, attitude and meaning that soul music is all about really set them apart.

[NEW MUSIC] THE SOUL OF MELBOURNE

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There’s no music genre louder and prouder in Melbourne town right now than soul. Fresh outta the new Northside Records label, The Soul of Melbourne documents this funky, tight and thriving scene.

Who better to narrow down the plethora of Melbourne soul talent than Lance Ferguson (Cookin’ on Three Burners, The Bamboos) and Chris Gill (3RRR’s The Get Down, Northside Records).The shared experience of these two soul buffs, ensures this album delivers the some funky goodness.

The 18 track album features the cream of the Melbourne soul crop. While the choice of some artists are obvious, a decent amount are a pleasant discovery for those vaguely familiar with the scene.

The Bombay Royale’s track, “Monkey Fight Snake,” transports you to a high drama Bollywood motion picture, with electrifying trumpet riffs and equally constant bass groove. It’s clear why these guys were crowned The Age EG Award’s ‘Best New Talent,’ fighting off the likes of Saskwatch, The Cactus Channel and Chet Faker, who coincidentally are all featured on the album too.

There’s a surprisingly upbeat soul number from The Mighty Show-Stoppers on “Hippy Skippy Moonstrut.” Then Clairy Browne and her Bangin’ Rackettes provide the powerful and punchy harmonies on “Love Letter.”

While AXOLOTL opt for a modern electronic sound with “Debris.” A similar sort of electronic influences governs ‘future soul’ outfit Hiatus Kaiyote, yet their sound is something oh-so-unique.

Cookin’ on 3 Burners adds the needed dose of hammond to the mix. Not to mention the funky fretwork of Lance Ferguson on “Skeletor.”

Speaking of Lance Ferguson, no Melbourne soul compilation would be complete without the The Bamboos. “What I know” features vocals from the original Bamboos songstress Kylie Auldist, who also has her own disco infused track “Changes”. On top of this, the band also back Syl Johnson on “Is it because I’m Black?”

Also featured are Deep Street Soul, Electric Empire, The Putbacks, The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra, Menagerie and Gypsy Brown.

Some are calling it ‘the soul resurgence,’ and that’s fair enough comment. But soul music never fully disappeared, and isn’t something that’s now being regurgitated. These talented Melbourne bands are embracing the soul style and taking it to places the likes of James Brown never would have imagined. There’s no doubt about it; Melbourne’s got soul.

This is a terrific compilation, and true acknowledgement of these artists. Grab a copy, but better yet, go and see these bands live; its the way soul should be experienced.

The Soul Of Melbourne LP is promised soon. After all, vinyl is the way music was meant to be recorded.